ISIS Seminars on Reconstructive Science

Spring 2001: Sex, Biology and Science Ethics

Project Home
  Spring 1999
  Fall 1998

ISIS Publications
Contact us

Projects Overview
  MilWaste Program
  Amazon Project
  Quantum Physics
  Science Dialogue
  Recoding Life
  ISIS Fellows

This series was co-sponsored by the Population and Development Progam, the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program, and The Dean of Faculty at Hampshire College.

April 18: "Mindwalk" by Fritjof Capra [film]
Capra is a distinguished physicist and author of The Web of Life, the Tao of Physics, and The Turning Point, whose work points to a new way of thinking potentially as important as the original scientific revolution.
MindWalk takes place on Mont-Saint-Michel, with the lovely French countryside in the backdrop. Politician Jack Edwards (Waterston) and poet Thomas Harriman (Heard) meet physicist and ex-American citizen Sonia Hoffman (Ullman), engaging a fascinating and remark- ably touching dialogue on topics of quantum mechanics, Cartesian and Newtonian sciences, the natural state of the earth, mechanistic vs. holistic thinking, and an answer to the question "What is life?"

April 10: "Quality & Quantity: Population Control and the Survival of Eugenics" by Betsy Hartmann
Early in the 20th century, eugenics informed repressive policies against immigrants, the poor, and the disabled and had an important impact on the new birth control movement.
* How are eugenics entwined with fear of overpopulation and the fertility of women of color?
* Who leads the assault on immigrants by conservative environmentalists like Garrett Hardin?
* Can or should new reproductive technologies make a brave new world of positive eugenics?
* And what are the implications for reproductive rights and environmental activists?

April 3-5: "Plan Colombia: Political, Ecological & Social Implications of US Drug Policy in Latin America"

MARCH 29: "Victims, Perpetrators and Bystanders" by Ervin Staub
Staub is the author of Positive Social Behavior and Morality and The Roots of Evil. His work focuses on altruistic behavior and inversely, on acts of violence, genocide, torture and youth violence. His talk will be about the underlying psychology of violent acts and how the victims of these acts are affected. Staub has spent most of his career studying what leads people to help, harm, or disregard others. His work is especially relevant as we are increasingly confronted with shocking acts of violence and inequality. Staub's own sentiment regarding his work and why he chose it is striking and genuine: " I felt deeply that I wanted to do what I could to create a world in which human beings won't do horrible things to each other."
Staub is the current president of the International Society of Political Psychology and a professor of psychology at UMass. He was one of the fortunate children saved from Hitler by Raoul Wallenburg in Budapest at the end of WWII. Staub came to the US after the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and began his distinguished career in psychology.

February 15: "What IS Sex?" Dr. Lynn Margulis
Margulis' captivating presentation is a surprising mix of biological and intellectual themes: the connection between sex and death, extreme sexual diversity (like a fungus with 50,000 distinct sexes), and some ideas on why men (and women) are like that.
Margulis' unparalleled work in evolution and geosciences includes the Gaia hypothesis--that the whole earth's surface is a living organism. Her revolutionary research on endosymbiosis proved that advanced cells arose from mutual dependence between simple cells which became parts of sub-cellular structure--one of the most important ideas in post-Darwinian Biology.

Fall 2000: ISIS at the Movies!

We've taken a slightly light-hearted spin on the seminars this semester, although even we were surprised by how many science- and philosophy-related questions can arise from an apparently innocent Hollywood blockbuster...